A woman wearking a burkini with a French flag is illustrated
  Illustration by Kaye Blegvad

When a Swimsuit Is a Security Threat

Op-ed in NY Times on the infamous "burkini"
24 August, 2016

“According to France’s prime minister, Manuel Valls, the suit is part of “the enslavement of women.” In a newspaper interview, the mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard, said: “The burkini is the uniform of extremist Islamism, not of the Muslim religion.”

These explanations may seem ludicrous, but Mr. Valls and Mr. Lisnard perfectly summed up the two contradictory public order rationales that European courts all the way up to the European Court of Human Rightsuse when dealing with Muslim women in religious garb. According to Europe’s highest court of human rights, Muslim women in head scarves and burqas are simultaneously victims, in need of a government savior, and aggressors, spreading extremism merely by appearing Muslim in public.”

From a human rights perspective, “ludicrous” is an understatement, but, in the present political context, it’ll take years before the ECtHR changes its case law. From an integration perspective, the ban is totally counterproductive: sales of burkinis have increased 200% since the first ban. Thank Heaven, the Canadian human rights policy and practice could inspire the French Republic: the RCMP will allow female Muslim officers to wear the hijab, after it allowed over twenty years ago male Sikh officers to wear the turban (the first such officer is now head of intelligence!)

To read the full Op-Ed in the NY Times, please click on the following link.

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